Published: 04/04/2002, Volume II2, No. 5799 Page 7

A cross-departmental strategy to invest in health services, improve health and tackle inequalities in Northern Ireland has been launched.

The strategy sets out a series of health targets for government departments, statutory, voluntary and community sectors to work towards an action plan which government departments will implement.

Northern Ireland health minister Bairbre de Brun said: 'Until now, health policy has tended to concentrate on the treatment of ill-health. This strategy aims to turn this situation around by focusing on the prevention of illhealth. It seeks to tackle the factors which cause poor health within our social, economic, physical and cultural environment.

'For example, ensuring we can live in a safe and healthy environment with a good standard of housing, having educational opportunities and the opportunity to gain the skills to work.'

Ms de Brun said that at local level, work was already welladvanced in creating four Investing for Health partnerships in the province. The health and social services boards will take the lead in drawing these together.

She said the successful implementation of the strategy would also depend on the commitment of community groups and organisations, as well as district councils, the business community and voluntary sectors.

Ruth Sutherland, spokesperson for the community development and health network, who helped to co-ordinate a major public consultation exercise on health with the ministerial group on public health as a basis for the strategy, said: 'The Investing in Health strategy demonstrates the potential of the new way of working we can expect from our assembly.'

The strategy will focus on improving health among the most disadvantaged groups of the population, including single mothers, people on low incomes and drug users.

lAn armed robbery on a security van at the Western health and social services board was foiled on 13 March. Several armed men entered the board's headquarters and held several staff hostage until the arrival of a security van which they attempted to rob. The board has now improved security measures at the building.

www. dhsspsni. gov. uk/publications/2002/investfor health. html